January 14, 2022
Jesus replied, “I assure you that today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43 CEB
She was waiting for me at the end of her driveway! Auntie Jane, one of my favorite people in the world, was standing there, with her walker, to greet me! She is 106 years and 10 months old, the oldest person I know. I was totally surprised by such a greeting, and the first thought that flashed through my mind was, “This is what heaven must be like!”
We spent an hour visiting as she recalled life on Kauai, living on sugar plantation as a child, of her father scrimping and saving to provide her with her final two years of high school at MidPacific institute in Honolulu since the local high school only went to grade 10. She told me about working as a house maid to cover her living expenses. She regaled me with tales from the Great Depression, and WW II, interspersed with current events, especially the Pandemic and how Manoa Valley Church is doing. She talked about being so old, the pain of arthritis, and wondering why she is still alive. She said that sometimes the pain of the world is hard to bear. She told me she prays every morning. I know, I have been the beneficiary of those prayers when I most needed them.
She shocked me by recalling something my granddaughter Lily said about 12 years ago. Something I had put far back in the recesses of my mind until she triggered the memory. Lily (3 or 4 at the time and on vacation to Hawaii) and I ran into Auntie Jane near the bus stop in front of Starbucks in Manoa. I introduced them to each other, and Lily turned to me and said, “I like that lady.” Kids have a way of knowing people! I like Auntie Jane as well.
I wanted to give her the blessing of telling her that I love her, that I want to be her when I grow up, and that she has been a role model not only to me but to so many. I came way far more blessing-recipient than blessing-giver. When it was time to leave, her daughter said, “Mom, this might be the last time you see Pastor Anne until heaven.” Many tears were shed.
I said, “a hui hou” (until we meet again).
She will be standing there, waiting for me, along with Jesus and a whole host of friends and family, in paradise.
Mahalo Ke Akua. Aloha nui loa. (Thank you, God. Love you very much.) ~ Anne